A recent article in the mainstream press reported that there were proposals to increase the ticket prices for foreign movies - in fact, double the price (from the current average of RM10 to RM20).
To me, paying extra for quality cinemas is no big deal. As it is, my family no mostly catch movies at the Gardens Signature cineplex. You pay more but the service is near impeccable, the seats more comfortable and it's less crowded. This is not the Gold Class okay. Signature offers the up-market Premiere Class, and the seats are twin seats. Gold Class at the Signature is RM60.
If it's a price hike, albeit with the upgrading of facilities, I have no problems.
My problem is that the proposal was meant to deter moviegoers from watching foreign films and instead go to see local fare at RM10.
Now, this is really a stupid premise. Increasing the price for foreign movies DO NOT force moviegoers to suddenly watch domestic produced fare. I repeat: IT DOES NOT. Whoever think it does should be committed to Taman Bahagia.
What will happen is that there will be an across the board decrease of moviegoers. They will instead satiate their thirst for foreign movies buy buying illegal DVDs and VCDs, or download the movies online.
Inevitably, this will affect the whole cinema business and they will either close down or think of a different business model to keep their companies afloat.
Local movies will be affected too because of the domino effect. The decrease in the number of people going near a cineplex will mean less chances of people deciding to catch a local movie whilst being at the cineplex lobby. Those who are not regular supporters of local fare will also find the whole affair distasteful and boycott local movies.
When cineplexes close down, Malaysian movies will have less screens. Cinemas will not screen local movies because no one wants to see it.
The whole industry will dissipate.
Am I an alarmist? No, not really. It is all the people that comes up with this knee jerk reaction proposals that are in-bred alarmists. These idiots should just shut up.
If they want to increase the price of tickets across the board and offer movie viewers up-graded cinema halls, yes, by all means do. Increase too the price of tickets for local movies too. Why discriminate?
But if they increase the price of imported movies in order to 'save' the local film industry, then I am sad to say that this is one of the most 'insane strategies' ever implemented. But then again, I was never a supporter of the 7-day force screening of local movies by cinema owners. It is about time, Malaysian movies compete with imported movies on a commercial basis.
Haven't we been hearing that Malaysian films are now world class? Winning all sorts of awards at overseas festival so on and so forth? So why do we suddenly need protectionist policies to assist the local film industry?
If the local movie is crap, no amount of policies will force anyone to see it. This is the same with foreign and imported movies. Case in point, The Spirit directed by Frank Miller.
If Cicakman 2 and Antoo Fighter failed to impress at the box office, don't blame James Bond or Transporter or Ip Man or Beverly Hill Chihuahuas. Blame the movie itself for being bland and uninteresting, so much so that bad word of mouth killed the movie within the first week.
But knowing the people behind the various policies within the entertainment industry, I am fairly certain that this proposal will be studied to the nth degree and implemented. I feel sorry for them and for the thousands of genuine moviegoers.